Jude Collins

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Hello darkness, my old friend

Sometimes you read something and you do a double take, go back and check that your eyes saw what you thought your eyes saw. I did that this morning. The Irish Times has a report by Gerry Moriarty headed “McLaughlin accepts ‘status quo’ “. EH? Mitchel McLaughlin, the Sinn Féin party, unionism - just about everybody north and south signed up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998,  and central to that was acceptance that there’d be no constitutional change in the north until a majority here voted for it.

So why is it news to say that Mitchel McLaughlin accepts the present constitutional status quo? Well, the south’s media have long looked at Sinn Féin with some degree of anxiety. They were the one party that looked as if they might re-awake the slumbering giant of Irish re-unification. They were associated with the IRA and violence in the past, which the south was desperately anxious to keep ‘up there’. And in more recent times, they looked/look as though they might become a significant force in southern Irish politics, upsetting the nicely-balanced  Fianna Fail/Fine Gael apple-cart. 

Anyone with any grasp of recent northern events knows that Sinn Féin accept the present constitutional position in the north, while at the same time working for the achievement of Irish unity by peaceful means. And yet we have today’s story in The Irish Times, to place alongside the shock-horror story of Alex Maskey saying he’d throw stones if his house was attacked with petrol bombs by a hostile mob. We also have the naked sectarian violence of some flag protestors, for whom the sight of Sinn Féin and, in this case the SDLP working democratically for something a teensy bit nearer to parity of esteem, as promised by the GFA, is just too much. “They’re chipping away at our Britishness!” is the cry.  Have the southern media leaped on the nonsense of that and denounced it for the maladjusted slabbering that it is?  Pass.

To the flag men: for God’s sake, guys. If you see the flying of the Union flag 17 times annually as the removal of a vital chip in your Britishness, you should either check with  your local psychiatrist (maybe John Alderdice of the Alliance Party?) or sit down and have a good long talk with yourself about the difference between reality and  paranoid fantasy. 

To the southern media:  it would help if you could find your way to avoid treating the articulation of part of a 15-year-old Agreement  as though it was a startling change in Sinn Féin policy. As they used to say in an old BBC radio  comedy: we already know that, kindly leave the stage.


  1. So much that could be said to this piece, but it's crap really isn't it? What a waste of time

  2. Anon 10:29 - Thank you for your contribution. We need more thoughtful comments like this.

  3. As always, the fiercer the attacks on SF by the establishment parties and media in the south, the greater their anxiety about SFs message and vision being supported in ever increasing numbers by ordinary citizens.

    Don't expect the attacks and twisting and spinning of events and issues to lessen in the years ahead. They will however come to a crescendo sooner or later, but once SFs big breakthrough comes (and it will), the south will never be the same again, because by that stage, SF will organically have significant support in all walks of life, including the media!

    Any unionists or free staters who wish to rubbish this opinion, go right ahead. Republicans are in this for the long hall, for the right reasons, the smarter opponents recognize this, that's what actually scares them and that's why they will use every tool in their arsenal in a hopeless but vitriolic attempt at stopping the enevitable

    1. Anon
      A united Ireland cannot be assumed to be inevitable,certainly not in our lifetime.
      I hope it does come about, but you cannot possibly predict what events may happen to alter the seemingly inevitable.
      It is indeed a 'long hall' and the lights are dim.

    2. I'm 25 chief, your lights might be dim, mines certainly aren't. Bring on the challenges!

  4. Your last paragraph almost makes it sound as if Sinn Fein had signed up enthusiastically to the Agreement from the start.As I recall ,they stalled on the decommissioning of I R A arms as long as they could.Seamus Mallon's phrase of "Sunningdale for slow learner s " comes to mind.